Charles Ferguson founded Vermeer Technologies Incorporated, a company that created the Frontpage web page creation / authoring / publishing system. About two years after the founding, Ferguson sold Vermeer to Microsoft for more than $130 mln and became a very rich man. This is his story, a little biographic, a little analytic and a lot critic.

I've got to tell you, this book scares me. I've never imagined that creating a software startup is so hard... Ferguson speaks in length about the tiring battles with VCs, lawyers, stock options, problematic employees, analysts, Netscape, Microsoft, whatnot... It seems that so many things are involved - it's a behemoth task, and it has so little to do with technology itself. I guess you need a "managerial" type to set a thing like this.

The book is very well written - the style is easy and flowing, and I immediately got hooked, finishing it relatively quickly. The topics discussed are very interesting - I learned a lot about the early history of the internet, the companies envolved, the early products, the explicit and implicit wars between companies, investors, VCs, etc.

One thing I didn't like, though, is the writers overly critical (IMHO) style. I think he bashes people too much. According to what he tells, he's certainly not an easy person to contact and conduct business with, the opinions he forms about people are quite strong, especially if negative. I mean, he probably interviewed these people during the writing of the book, and in the book itself he doesn't spare them "negative titles". While this makes the book quite entertaining and in some places outright hillarious, I still felt a little uncomfortable, from time to time.

To conclude, if you want to read about the early history of the internet and the Silicon Valley startup lives, and all of this in an entertaining and educative way, get this book - but only if you're not one of the people Ferguson bashes, or one of their friends/relatives.


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